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Fi Lovett

Drapers probes leading independents to get their View from the Shop Floor.

What brands do you stock?
We’re doing lots of British labels, such as Anthony and Alison, along with European labels such as Manoush. Our customers are looking for labels that are quirky and edgy.

Did you go to Paris Fashion Week? 
Yes, and Paris does fashion week very well. It has shuttle busses between venues and is much better organised - London Fashion Week could learn a thing or two. I saw lots of Japanese buyers who I failed to see at London, which is a shame considering how the sterling is.

What can independents do to set themselves apart?
If independents really know their customer, buy for that customer, and have a passion for the product, this will set them apart. Independents can offer something different to the high street.

Do you have transactional website?
We are due to launch a transactional website at the end of March. I feel it is vital [to have one] now and our customers are asking for it. I considered opening another store, but feel that an online site would be better in the current climate.

How is trade at the moment?
Trade has been good, sales are up on last year. Our customers have always been savvy, discerning, and looking for something unique, and different. I buy clothes on the merit of the product, and work really hard at buying the right product for our customer. We also offer a range of price points, from £25 to £500, which has really helped sales.

How do you feel about the department stores discounting again?
It’s a shame, because it puts pressure on smaller businesses. When it all comes down to profit, labels and the high street become safe and dull-and this is not what our customers want. The high street going on Sale pre-Christmas made it very difficult for us. But we held out and didn’t go on Sale until after Christmas, and we were up again in December.

How is the independent womenswear market faring in the recession?
I’m hearing from suppliers that the independent market is faring the recession far better than bigger high street stores. Customers are more discerning and looking for something different.

  • Fi Lovett, owner of three-store contemporary womenswear independent Fifi Wilson in London

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